Reflecting on the potential for e-procurement, Shelley Stewart says that purchasing and supply management organizations have a great opportunity to take advantage of new technologies as a way of bringing greater value to their enterprises. But he cautions that procurement executives must be careful to benchmark themselves against their peers at every point along the implementation path to ensure that they are deriving the greatest value from the technologies that they deploy. That helps both in selecting appropriate technologies and in selling the ROI to senior management, a crucial success factor for long-term e-procurement initiatives that rely on continued funding. "Because you certainly don't have time to fail," Stewart warns. "One misstep, and the next time you won't get the money to buy these tools. So you've got to be very careful."
Sidebar: Advice from the Veterans
The standard advice for implementing technology certainly applies to e-procurement solutions:
- Get senior level support to ensure proper funding and broad-based adoption throughout the enterprise;
- Fix the workflow before applying technology so that you don't enable a broken process;
- Be prepared for a significant change management effort to bring end-users onboard;
- Use cross-functional, cross-business unit teams to pick technologies; and,
- Measure results and publicize them throughout the enterprise.
In addition, e-procurement veterans have a few additional tips for supply chain executives looking to enable the procure-to-pay process at their enterprises:
Think long-term: Develop a roadmap that identifies procurement "pain points," the overarching strategy and goals, the necessary process changes and the technology required to support the strategy.
Bring in the experts: e-Procurement is still maturing, but early adopters have already seen results, and a growing number of executives have technical and management skills that can be critical to the success of an e-procurement initiative. Be prepared to tap into this talent pool.
Prepare for the future: The enabling technologies that power e-procurement are a moving target, so continuous education is a necessity to ensure that you are leveraging the most advanced capabilities available on the market. Assign staff members to track specific types of enabling technologies. (See Supply & Demand Chain Executive's Global Enabled Supply and Demand Chain Map on www.SDCExec.com for a comprehensive listing of enabling technologies in various segments of the supply chain.)